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Ardclough, Kildare: Kenneth O'Brien, whose mutilated body was found in suitcase, had only just returned to Ireland from Australia

By Robin Schiller and Tom Brady

Published 19/01/2016

Kenneth O'Brien's body was found in the Grand Canal at Ardclough in north Kildare
Kenneth O'Brien's body was found in the Grand Canal at Ardclough in north Kildare
The Garda sub aqua unit searching the Grand Canal
Members of the Garda at the scene near the village of Ardclough, Co Kildare, where a body was found inside a container dumped in the Grand Canal yesterday. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A coffin is taken from the scene near the village of Ardclough, Co Kildare, where a body was found inside a container dumped in the Grand Canal yesterday. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The Garda sub aqua unit at the scene near the village of Ardclough, Co Kildare
Members of the Garda at the scene near the village of Ardclough, Co Kildare, where a body was found inside a container dumped in the Grand Canal yesterday. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Members of the Garda sub aqua unit at the scene near the village of Ardclough, Co Kildare, where a body was found inside a container dumped in the Grand Canal yesterday. Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Gardai have identified the murder victim whose torso was found in a suitcase in the Grand Canal at Ardclough in north Kildare last Saturday afternoon.

He has been named as father-of-one Kenneth O'Brien (33) from Lealand Road, Clondalkin, Dublin.

He is understood to have gone missing on Friday and his disappearance was reported to gardai the following evening.

Mr O'Brien was originally from Ballyfermot, Dublin.

Mr O'Brien was last seen leaving his house last Friday and he told his family he was 'going down the the country to do some work'.

The JCB operator had recently returned from Australia.

It is unknown how he travelled once he left the house.

Superintendent Gerry Wall said at the press conference this evening: "He's a family man, with a partner.

"I spoke with his family this evening. They are devastated and grief stricken."

Superintendent Gerry Wall revealed that "gardai enquires are intensifying towards the Clondalkin area".

Mr O'Brien had only returned from Australia last month.

"If you have spoken to him by email, phone or text, we would like to hear from you," Superintendent Wall said

Superintendent Wall said that gardaí were particularly interested in speaking to anybody who may have been in the Grand Canal area early Saturday morning on January 16.

He said that over 100 people have contacted the incident room with information regarding the murder.

He added that wider searches will be done in the Ardclough area – where the torso was found – over the next few days.

He said that a team of gardaí have “been out all day and will continue throughout the night” to as they try to establish a crime scene.

Superintendent Wall said gardai have “no evidence to suggest” that Mr Wall was in fear for his life.

“Kenneth O’Brien is a very normal man, going about his business, pursuing his employment, trying to get some work and he has been brutally murdered,” said Superintendent Wall.

“At this stage there is no indication why this crime was perpetrated on this man.

“It is a particularly gruesome crime and the brutality of it couldn’t be overstated in respect of how a human being has ben treated.

“It focuses us and our intensity of our investigation to find the perpetrators of the crime and to bring them to justice.

“I don’t have any car or any details about the mode of transport. That is certainly one of the things that would assist us in our enquires.

“If people did see him in a car, bus, Luas, we’d be very happy to hear from them.”

Gardai said that they were pursuing leads why Mr O'Brien was killed.

"At this stage there is no indication why this crime was perpetrated," said Superintendent Wall.

He added that no crime scene has been found.

"It is a particularly gruesome crime."

Mr Wall also dismissed reports that Mr O'Brien was at a party. "That doesn't fit in with our enquiries," said Superintendent Wall and dismissed it as "speculation".

He added that Mr O'Brien's family have only been given the "devastating" news just over two hours ago.

Mr O'Brien was identified this afternoon after a DNA sample taken from the torso matched with a sample given by a member of the man's family.

DNA analysis was carried out and completed today.

Gardai were informed at 3.30pm today that the DNA sample was a match to Mr O'Brien.

This evening, gardai issued a fresh appeal and said they wished to speak to anyone who was in or around the Grand Canal near Ardclough on Friday and early Saturday to contact them.

Gardai said they are keen to speak to anyone who may have observed, seen or had any contact with Mr O'Brien since the early hours of Friday morning when he left Lealand Road in Clondalkin or can assist in tracing his movements.

The gardai again requested people returning to their property or premises after the weekend to check to see if there was anything unusual.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the incident room at Leixlip Garda Station 01 666 7800.

Gardai have not yet established where Mr O'Brien was murdered and dismembered but intensive investigations are continuing in north Kildare and west Dublin.

Mr O'Brien is not known to gardai - and is from what has been described as a very respectable and hard working family.

The breakthrough in the identification of Mr O'Brien occurred earlier today.

The torso of a male was found wrapped in plastic in a suitcase near Ardclough Bridge, Co Kildare, shortly after 3.30pm on Saturday.

The victim's head, hands and feet had been cut off in an attempt to prevent gardaí from carrying out an identification process of the body.

However, investigating detectives were able to determine an age for the victim.

Sources have revealed that one of the lines of inquiry gardaí were working on is that the Mr O'Brien was brutally slain in "a house party that got out of control". However, it is understood this theory has been investigated and discounted.

The suitcase holding the torso of the Mr O'Brien was in the Grand Canal for at least six hours before it was recovered by passers-by.

Several walkers noticed the suitcase in the canal at Ardclough in north Kildare from 9am onwards on Saturday but thought it was discarded litter.

A post-mortem examination of the torso by Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis, at Naas General Hospital on Sunday afternoon, showed no signs of injury to the torso.

Gardaí believe the fatal injuries may have been inflicted to the Mr O'Brien's head, either through a shooting or a brutal assault. Members of the Garda water unit resumed their search of the canal for other body parts yesterday, while the Garda dog unit was also drafted in to lead searches along the canal banks and adjoining land.

Gardaí think other body parts could have been dumped elsewhere in the Grand Canal or in nearby wasteland.

Members of the Garda investigation team from the Kildare division are working closely with colleagues in west Dublin.

Fingerprint checks are being carried out on the suitcase and the heavy plastic used to wrap the torso.

Read more: 'It's so macabre - nothing like this has happened here before'

Gardaí have so far gathered more than 80 witness statements from members of the public, with investigating officers appealing for anyone with information to contact Leixlip Garda Station.

'It's so macabre - nothing like this has happened here before'

By Deirdre Reynolds

The sleepy village of Ardclough in Co Kildare found itself at the heart of a grisly murder mystery over the weekend.

Nestled between Celbridge and Straffan, the pretty borough set on the banks of the Grand Canal is well known among walkers and anglers from all over the county.

Ordinarily, tourists and locals alike can be seen plodding the heritage trail from Hazelhatch to Oughterard Cemetery, where brewing legend Arthur Guinness and his wife Olivia are buried.

On Saturday afternoon, however, two walkers inadvertently stumbled upon another grave along 'Arthur's Way' after spotting a large suitcase in the water while they were out for a stroll.

The dark-coloured wheelie bag - which was described by officials as being just like any other - contained the dismembered torso of a man who has yet to be identified.

As national and local media descended on the village, hoping to learn more yesterday morning, there was a palpable sense of shock at the jarring sight of a blue forensics tent on the usually peaceful stretch of waterway.

Cycling past the bridge closest to the where the gruesome discovery was made on his way to the local shop, local man Thomas McLoughlin told how others had also seen the suitcase bobbing in the canal in recent days but thought nothing of it.

He said: "It has taken everybody by surprise, this whole thing. A lot of locals spotted this wheelie suitcase in the water, but didn't pay much attention to it."

As garda divers trawled the lock, which is overlooked by the illustrious Lyons Demesne, and uniformed gardaí went door to door in the area making enquiries, just before noon, a wooden coffin draped in a thin black sheet was driven away in the back of a hearse.

Speaking to the press assembled just beyond the crime scene tape, Superintendent Gerry Wall of Leixlip Garda Station appealed for anyone who had travelled the path between Thursday and Saturday to come forward.

Having ambled along the canal with her five-year-old son on Wednesday, Ardclough resident Teresa Farrell admitted it was "scary" to think someone could have dumped a body there just hours later.

She said: "The world is a sick place. I only had my son down here during the week.

"I just hope they get whoever did it; no one deserves to die like that."

Describing the mood in the community, cyclist Thomas McLoughlin added: "Utter shock - it's so macabre. Nothing like this has ever happened in Ardclough."

Irish Independent

Irish Independent

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